Tyler Pounds Regional Airport is one of 14 airports in Texas that will receive funding to pay for the continued operation of the air traffic control tower, thanks to the Texas Department of Transportation Commission.

“I am proud of the state of Texas for taking a proactive role,” said Davis Dickson, Airport manager, who attended the meeting in Austin today. “TxDOT is really breaking the mold by taking these steps.”

Air traffic control towers help guide more than 65,000 flights each month at Texas municipal airports. According to pilots, the towers provide a much-needed layer of safety. When air traffic control towers are not used, a “see and avoid” method is implemented in which pilots make their own decisions about landing and taking off. Aviation experts say this “see and avoid” practice is less safe at municipal airports where larger aircraft mix with smaller aircraft and helicopters.

“I am very pleased with the leadership of Dave Fulton, the director of the aviation division for TxDOT and  Jeff Austin who serves on the commission,” said City Manager Mark McDaniel. “The City fully intends to ensure our tower remains open even after TxDOT funding expires.”

Currently, 21 percent of aircraft take off and land at these towered airports in Texas. Cuts in federal funding for air traffic control services at 149 facilities nationwide are scheduled to begin in phases starting next week. Today’s decision by the Commission will provide approximately $2 million for 14 airports for 90 days.